'Hangnail Watch': Mavs GAMEDAY Monitors Luka and KP as T'Wolves in Town

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - Once upon a time, new Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban added Dennis Rodman to the roster. The signing wasn't about basketball as much as it was about publicity; 20 years ago, the Mavs could barely make a dent into the front page of the local sports section.

And now? "I understand the interest,'' coach Rick Carlisle says about the injury status of Luka Doncic, who managed his ankle injury by sitting out Sunday's loss at Atlanta. "Everyone wants to know about his latest hangnail.''

Carlisle isn't trying to be sarcastic; it's true of Luka and his ankle and it's true of the knee of Kristaps Porzingis, who also missed Sunday due to "load management.''

The challenge for the Mavs, obviously, with their 26 games remaining, is striking a balance between needed rest and needed firepower.

Game Time: 7:30 p.m. CT

Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas

TV/Radio: FSSW, 103.3 FM, Univision, 1270 AM (Spanish)

Records: Mavericks (34-23), T'Wolves (16-41)

The Timberwolves are playing on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. To say Minnesota has been struggling lately would be a massive understatement, as they’ve lost 17 of their last 18 contests. The Wolves played the Mavs close in their first matchup back in early December, but they’ll be without their top-three scorers from that game this time around. Robert Covington and Andrew Wiggins are now on different teams, and Karl-Anthony Towns is out tonight while dealing with a wrist injury.

The Mavs, who will more-than-likely have both Doncic and Porzingis back tonight after a one-game absence, must take advantage of playing a lottery-bound team at home, especially after the mess that happened in Atlanta the other night. Dallas is currently battling it out with OKC in the Western Conference standings for the sixth seed, but climbing even higher than that in this final stretch is certainly not out of the question either (the Mavs are just 2.5 games behind the Rockets, who currently occupy the fourth spot in the West).

Although the Mavs recognize the importance of achieving the best possible playoff seeding, Cuban has said that the Mavs won't mess "with the meal ticket,'' meaning taking care of Doncic's health is an organizational priority. But he notes that in the case of Luka's ankle, it's not serious injury.

"That’s just the nature of the injury,'' Cuban says. "There’s being injured and there’s being hurt. He’s not injured, but it’s going to hurt."